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A Message to the Diversity Abroad Community

Posted By Andrew Gordon, Friday, November 11, 2016

Andrew GordonTen years ago when I founded Diversity Abroad it was based on the notion that all students should have equitable access to global educational opportunities. Over the last decade, Diversity Abroad has grown into a vibrant community of students and professionals from all racial, national, economic, ability, sexual, and religious backgrounds. We’ve come together, behind this movement, because we share a common vision for the future; one of mutual understanding and one in which all young people have equitable access to the type of educational experiences that will help them appreciate other perspectives, develop empathy, and be prepared to take on the global challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

 

There is concern in our community, across the U.S. as well as throughout the world, for what the future holds. Based on the tone of the presidential campaign and the climate on our campuses, even before a single vote was cast, many of our colleagues and students expressed concern and fear. These feelings are real and should not be cast aside. Regardless of one's politics, as professionals we have chosen to work with and support students, domestic and international, from all backgrounds and walks of life. If we are to build trust and credibility with the students we serve we must be there to support our students during challenging times. We cannot hide behind the shield of international education and think that we do not have an important role in supporting our domestic students from diverse and marginalized groups. We all have a role in fostering an inclusive climate where students are able to thrive and succeed. Further, we work with colleagues from marginalized groups who share the same fear and concern that many of our students have. Being an ally and supportive of our colleagues will foster the kind of inclusivity that makes an office or an organization truly great.

 

It is abundantly clear that now more than ever our work is needed. There is a need to engage with those who hold different perspectives and beliefs and to develop mutual understanding here and abroad. There is a need to renew our commitment to partnering in support of marginalized communities and for self examination as we ask ourselves,“How can I be an ally to my colleagues and students who are from traditionally marginalized groups?” More than anything there is a need to recognize that the work we do isn’t just about student mobility. It never has been. The work we do has the power to change lives. It opens minds and can help young people develop an appreciation for difference and empathy, qualities that are essential if they are to become positive agents of change. This type of understanding is crucial for our society to be one where everyone can feel included, prosper, and be successful.

 

For Diversity Abroad nothing changes. We will continue to do the following:

 
  • Lead the field of international education and exchange toward diversity and inclusive excellence and ensure that our policies and practices equitably support all students.

  • Advocate for equitable access to global education at the local, national, and international level

  • Support marginalized groups, domestic and international, before, during, and after participating in an international education or exchange program

  • Provide resources, training, and guidance to the thousands of students, young people, and professionals who are part of our community

 

One of my favorite quotes is from Winston Churchill who says, “The pessimist sees the challenge in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every challenge.” Yes, we face an uncertain future and challenging times may lie ahead. However, we can choose to remain optimistic and not allow the negative tone to dampen our spirits or our resolve. In doing so, whether we work with education abroad students or international students coming to our campuses, we will find the opportunities to support our students and continue the movement to develop the next generation of leaders by making international education diverse, equitable, and inclusive.

 

Onwards and upwards.

 

All my best,

 

Andrew

Tags:  Diversity  Elections  Inclusion  International Education  Study Abroad 

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#UnlockYourPassport: Highlights of The Passport Tour

Posted By Daneen Johnson, Monday, November 7, 2016

The Passport Tour (TPT) has traveled to more than 20 institutions across 6 states; impacting more than 1,000 students from diverse and underrepresented backgrounds. TPT is one of Diversity Abroad's (DA) initiatives to engage students, staff, and faculty with the ultimate goal of "preparing the next generation of global leaders.” This national outreach effort is eminently rewarding and enables us to spark an interest among students who have not considered studying abroad before, and to connect students to Diversity Abroad’s resources.

 

Each campus visit is unique and tailored to reach as many students as possible. This year our student events have included:

  • Study Abroad Fairs

  • Study Abroad 101 Information Sessions

  • Resource tabling in Student Unions

  • Classroom Presentations

  • Open advising sessions in Multicultural Student Centers  

  • Recording student interviews

  • Leading diversity and inclusion discussions for staff and graduate students

  • Moderating a panel consisting of students who have studied abroad

 

Upholding our Commitment

 

We meet students where they are-- on campus, in classrooms, and within inclusive academic spaces. TPT has visited a diverse array of locations and institutional types such as colleges and universities in rural and urban areas, ivy leagues, and institutions with limited access to global opportunities. The diversity of campuses may vary considerably, but the commonality is all institutions have underrepresented students who are not studying abroad. Students are seeking diverse perspectives on the personal (career) significance and overall community impact of this educational endeavor. That’s what makes Diversity Abroad’s impact on campus so unique.

 

Additionally, we are upholding our commitment to increase visits to Minority Serving Institutions, and during this semester alone, almost half of all TPT visits have been at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) or Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs).

 
 

Memorable Moments:

 

Open group discussions with students about their excitement, and conversely their barriers to studying abroad create our top memorable moments of the tour. These conversations that we facilitate on campus not only allow students to hear from each other and help their peers critically think through topics of concern, but they also allow faculty to understand their students' needs. This is why we encourage faculty members to also review study abroad resources to prepare students who seek their advice.

 

Likewise, one-on-one conversations with students are just as valuable as the group discussions. In conversing with students, many have told us that they see a reflection of themselves in the DA team. May it be that we share the same race/ethnicity, religious identity, passion for travel and food, immigration story or ambition to thrive in life, students quickly open up and share their thoughts. For example, I recently shared a meal with a student who promptly connected with me based off of physical identity. With much excitement, she recommended we eat at the best new restaurant near campus where she anecdotally walked me through her recent semester abroad in South America. Giving students undivided, unadulterated attention, be it in a group or individualized settings, helps them to reaffirm and improve self-efficacy, which is the desire of all educators.

 

Also, while visiting campuses we are able to meet a few of our Diversity Abroad scholarship recipients. Seeing them glow with joy as they share their memories of the “best experience of their lives” is always a lasting memory for the team.


Shift Perspective

 

Build authentic connections with students and don't assume that a student knows how study abroad is defined or it’s permanent impact on their personal and professional lives. Therefore an attentive ear is essential. If a student says “I can’t study abroad”, perception can lead a professional to believe the student isn’t interested, when in reality they may be concerned about the multitude of valid reasons that, unbeknownst to the student, can be overcome. Just this week while on a campus in Florida, a student walked past our resource table and mentioned that she would love to study abroad but has a child and can not be gone for a long duration of time. I countered by explaining to her that her school’s study abroad office offers short-term, week long programs. In that moment, her perception of study abroad shifted from completely unrealistic to possible and her perspective on the opportunity was more optimistic.

 

Our challenge to you: listen with intentionality, connect with integrity, educate with care, engage in critical conversations, and challenge students to pursue a global opportunity. It’s a straightforward and healthy reminder for all of us to better refocus our students perceptions to help them have a clearer view of reality.

 

The Passport Tour will be on back on the road visiting campuses across the country in spring 2017! If you are interested in hosting Diversity Abroad on your campus, please contact Daneen Johnson, Community Engagement Coordinator at djohnson@diversityabroad.org.

 

Also, celebrate International Education Week with Diversity Abroad and IES as we host Embark to Excel: A Virtual Student Conference on Study Abroad and The Socially Conscious Global Citizen! Reserve your virtual seat here: http://bit.ly/e2econference2016

 

Tags:  diversity  iew  international education  TPT 

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Minority-Serving Institutions & Access to International Education

Posted By Erica Ledesma, Thursday, December 18, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The United States is home to more than 500 Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI’s) including: Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU’s), Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI’s), and Tribal Colleges & Universities (TCU’s). While open to students from all backgrounds, MSI’s occupy an important space within higher education, especially in the context of increasing access to educational opportunities. This blog post intends to highlight some of the trends, research, and debate specific to MSI’s in the context of internationalism.

Currently, there are more than 100 HBCU’s in the U.S. According to the US Department of Education, an HBCU is defined as “…any historically black college or university that was established prior to 1964, whose principal mission was, and is, the education of black Americans…” Despite President Obama’s 2010 executive order renewing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, controversy over the Potential Contraction of HBCUs has been making headlines. At the highest national level, however, the historical significance of these institutions, as well as the present-day role they can play to address inequities in the education system continues to prevail. Specific to international education, the American Council on Education (ACE) published a report, Creating Global Citizens: Challenges and Opportunities for Internationalization at HBCU’s, detailing the comprehensive internationalization efforts at several of the country’s HBCU’s. The report was compiled to serve as a resource for other HBCU’s as they internationalize their campuses. Not surprisingly-- given the well-documented underfunding of MSI’s -- the report indicated a need for additional financial and human resources to support successful internationalization efforts.

The National Center for Education Statistics lists more than 30 TCU’s within the U.S. For Native students studying at non-Tribal Colleges & Universities, some schools are working to identify appropriate means to help Native American students feel at “home” on the campus. This can be difficult, especially, when Native students constitute a small percentage of a large student body. Many Native students are more comfortable attending a TCU because of the efforts made to preserve native traditions and language. Likewise, reports indicate that student success at TCU’s, when compared to Native students at non-TCU’s, is high. Recognizing the important role of TCU’s and other K-12 educational institutions in native communities, President Obama recently announced the Generation Indigenous Initiative, an effort to support Native youth as they prepare for college and future careers. Anne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, noted that TCU’s “do an extraordinary job, often on a shoestring budget, in what they are doing to transform lives to empower the next generation of leaders in a whole host of fields, including our future educators.” In 2012-2013, only .5% of the almost 290,000 U.S. students who participated in study abroad identified as American Indian or Alaska Native. Given this statistic, it is incumbent upon the international education community to consider new ways to reach out to Native students and TCU’s.

HSI’s are defined in federal law (the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA), Title V, 2008) as accredited, degree-granting, public or private nonprofit institutions of higher education with 25% or more total undergraduate Hispanic full-time equivalent (FTE) student enrollment (Excelencia in Education). In 2012-2013, the HSI Center at Excelencia in Education, a national educational advocacy nonprofit, identified 370 HSIs in the U.S. within 15 states and Puerto Rico. California has the most HSIs (127), followed by Texas (68), and Puerto Rico (59). In an IndyStar article, Deborah Santiago, Chief Operating Officer and Vice President for Policy at Excelencia in Education, stated that “Latino students are much more likely to attend colleges where they make up at least one-quarter of the student body, such as the University of Texas at El Paso.” This assertion is also supported by the data: In 2012-2013, 59 percent of undergraduate Hispanic/Latino students were enrolled at MSI’s as compared to 46% twenty years ago (Excelencia in Education). Recent research out of Vanderbilt and Florida State University comparing graduation rates of Hispanic students with similar backgrounds, revealed roughly equivalent graduation rates at HSI’s as at non-HIS’s. This research seems to confront some of the predominant discourse claiming that MSI’s are not performing as well as their non-MSI counterparts.

Diversity Abroad is committed to working collaboratively with MSIs to increase access to and services for students on their campuses. As part of our involvement in the Generation Study Abroad initiative to double study abroad participation over the next 5 years, Diversity Abroad has announced plans to develop a capacity building program geared toward higher education professionals at MSIs. Annually, Diversity Abroad will bring together representatives from 7-10 MSI campuses to engage in virtual and in-person training sessions hosted in partnership with non-MSI Diversity Network member institutions. Additionally, through our annual Go Global Campus Tour (GGT), we will increase our campus visits to MSIs to provide information, resources, and training to students who may not readily have access to information about education abroad options. Each year over the next five years, we will add more diverse campuses (e.g., HBCUs, TCUs) to our campus visits providing pre-departure and returned student resources in the form of student presentations, tabling, and classroom visits.

MSIs, particularly HBCUs and HSIs, prepare and train the majority of African-American/Black and Hispanic/Latino professionals entering the workforce. As such, their engagement in doubling study abroad participation is critical to ensuring that the student population going abroad is also representative of the diversity of the U.S. population.

Tags:  HBCU  HSI  international education  Minority Students  Tribal Colleges and Universities 

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Go Global Campus Tour to Begin in September!

Posted By Administration, Saturday, August 24, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Diversity Abroad is pleased to announce the start of its campus-wide tour of universities and colleges across the country to promote international programs, internships, volunteering, graduate schools, and professional experiences overseas to students. Campus visits will first take our Diversity Abroad representatives to Washington, DC and Colorado in early September, with many more locations to follow. We are in our fifth year of this successful outreach initiative, and look forward to making each year of the GGT bigger and better. We wish to continue to expand our abilities to share the vast resources and opportunities available in international education to all students, regardless of background. Many location confirmations are still in the process of being scheduled, so please do not hesitate to contact us at (which email would you prefer?) to schedule a visit to your institution on the Go Global Campus Tour! We look forward to seeing you during the fall or spring semesters!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:  international education  outreach 

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International Education Issues to Watch During Obama’s 2nd Term

Posted By Administration, Monday, December 3, 2012
Updated: Thursday, July 21, 2016

After nearly a year of intense presidential political campaigning, U.S. voters have officially selected President Obama for a second term in the White House. With a host of big issues to tackle, the Obama administration will not only be faced with challenges like handling an economic recovery and improving bipartisan relationships in Congress, they will also need to  manage changes in education policies, immigration reform, foreign policy efforts and more.  With so many priorities to manage, what could Obama’s second term mean for international educational professionals, especially for those interested in expanding education abroad opportunities for traditionally underrepresented populations?

Based on the most recent discussions about the impact that the election results would have on higher education, there are four areas that may be of particular interest for international education professionals to watch over the next few months. These issues have the potential to change, challenge, and improve the way education abroad experts pursue the goals of making international opportunities available to a wider audience of students and improving international student services on campuses.

Immigration Policies

DREAM Act Legislation

Maryland has become the 12th state to allow in-state tuition rates for undocumented students who qualify. This comes in the wake of the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals act that allows many undocumented young people who arrived in the U.S. when they were minors the chance to remain in the U.S. Not only do these two examples suggest that people in the U.S. are interested in a more comprehensive reform on immigration policies, they also suggest that there will be a growing number of diverse students, particularly Hispanics/Latinos, who may begin to seek out other opportunities on campus to get engaged including education abroad programming. Advisers from all departments will need to know how to access resources and information to support these students on campus, especially if the federal DREAM Act legislation is re-introduced to Congress.

Enhancements to Work and Student Visa Requirements

There has been much discussion about offering a path to residency in the U.S. for international students who graduate with advanced degrees. Though both parties favor policies that would allow these graduates to stay in the U.S. to increase the national competitiveness in research and development, passing legislation on these policies is often held up by a greater need to pursue comprehensive immigration reform. Should action be taken in this area, institutions of higher education may look to expand international student recruiting efforts and increase focus on research opportunities.

Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

Affirmative action lawsuits have been around nearly as long as affirmative action policies were first set in motion in the 1960s. The latest case to be brought to the attention of the Supreme Court is that of Abigail Fisher vs the University of Texas, Austin. This case has the potential to completely eliminate race/ethnicity from consideration during the college admissions process subsequently challenging institutions to find alternative ways to recruit ethnic/racial minorities to their campuses. This is no easy feat, and should the case rule in favor of eliminating racial preferences in admissions decisions there is a strong possibility that colleges and universities will face several challenges in ensuring students of color are represented on their campuses. This may present new challenges for how international educators reach out to and retain students of color for education abroad opportunities.

Pell Grant Program

Threats to cut the existing Pell Grant Program and modifications in federal student aid in general have greatly affected the higher education community. Federal aid is imperative to making college accessible to low-income and first-generation students because it has provided the financial support needed to cover the basic costs of attending college. This has allowing a more diverse population of students to get engaged in activities outside of the classroom and limiting access to these resources could also limit the diversity of students on campus. If funding remains steady or even increases, this may mean new opportunities for education abroad professionals to get more underrepresented students involved in international programming. There are an increasing number of study abroad providers that now offer matching funding for Pell Grant eligible students and this may create more demand for additional programming.

Expansion of Community Colleges

In 2011, the Obama administration launched the Building American Skills Through Community Colleges an initiative that is intended to expand education and training opportunities for more US students. Now only has the administration committed to more support for community colleges to train students, it has places a particular emphasis on preparing the population in high demand technical jobs that are increasingly global in nature. This opens a unique opportunity not only to engage community college students in education abroad activities, it could open opportunities for STEM students to explore international programming also. Moreover, this and other federal initiatives are working on expanding opportunities to attract larger international student populations to these campuses. This not only could offer more funding opportunities for the institutions, it could also offer opportunities for on-campus dialogue and engagement between US and international students, in turn promoting more cultural exchange on campus.

These are but a few of the policies that could influence the direction of international programming and internationalization efforts on US campuses over the course of the next few years.

If you would like to share your thoughts, email us at members@diversitynetwork.org.

Tags:  community colleges  education abroad  Funding  global education  inclusion  international education  International Exchange  Obama  resources  Underrepresented Students 

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